From the very beginning of the Tynemouth project, organisers have been visited at the workroom by relatives of the 1,700 casualties named in the Borough Roll of Honour.
This has brought together a wide range of documents and artefacts related to the service of their family member who was killed or died as a result of the war.
In many cases these items were keepsakes and mementoes of no great commercial value, but precious reminders of men who had been taken from their families and lost in the terrible events of the war, leaving little behind them but these few fading pieces of evidence of lives cut short.
From the outset the project received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to mount an exhibition of its work and information that might be gathered up to the culmination of its three-year programme of work around the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War.
Now, at 10am on Saturday, July 12, the project is showing a large selection of material, telling the story of the war locally and its impact on local people, in the exhibition area on the first floor of the North Shields Customer First Centre in Northumberland Square.
The story of the war as it affected the local Tynemouth community is told through a more than 20 large display boards, illustrated with images of the conflict at home and abroad.
They record the lives of an earlier now lost generation at the outbreak of the war through to the Armistice and its aftermath, as the community sought to record and memorialise the experience of the war.
Alongside the exhibition the project has been able to assemble for public viewing a number of unusual and interesting artefacts loaned or donated by relatives and others.
Items as diverse as the sinister ‘splatter mask’ issued to tank crews to protect them from the shards of hot metal released when these novel machines of war were subject to shelling or machine-gun fire, through to embroidered silk handkerchiefs together with other chilling reminders of the ‘mechanics’ of war as men perfected evermore complex and ingenious methods of killing their opponents.
The exhibition will run until September 20 in all normal hours at the centre.
The project’s Information Centre in Front Street, Tynemouth (next door to the library), will be open this weekend.
Two of the mini-exhibitions are on display and a wide range of second-hand First World War books are available to purchase.
Tickets for the new Peter Mortimer play Death at Dawn, specially commissioned by the project, are on sale and an animated casualty map telling the story of some of the men from Tynemouth killed in major events of the war is shown on a screen monitor, with a narration as the map builds up over the period of the war to mark the home addresses more than 1,000 casualties from the former borough.
To access the project database go to www.tynemouthworldwarone.org
Anyone with information about anyone killed or died as a result of the war is asked to contact the project.
The project workroom at Room B9, Linskill Community Centre, Trevor Terrace, North Shields, is open from 10am to 4pm each weekday for visitors and for anyone interested to learn more about the project or how to get involved.
The address for correspondence is c/o Essell, 29 Howard Street, North Shields NE30 1AR.